Traveling is challenging enough as it is but toss in the GAPS diet and you’ve got yourself a real challenge.
Back in 2019 we tried our first hand at traveling on GAPS. Raleigh had been on the diet for two years at that point. We didn’t go far, just into the mountains a couple of hours away, and stayed at a cabin with a fully functioning kitchen. After feeling like we had had pretty good success bringing meals to prepare that weekend at the cabin we decided to take on a much larger trip cross country to visit family the following year in 2020.
The 2020 trip was a very big undertaking. Raleigh was 3 years on the full GAPS diet, still dealing with some eczema, though mild, but still very strictly on full GAPS. This meant he would need to maintain his stock consumption while we were away and I would need to meticulously plan meals.
The week or two leading up to that trip was filled with a lot of meal brainstorming, planning, list making, cooking and freezing things. I made stock and froze it in smaller portions with the intent to cook more when we arrived. I pre-made meatballs for the trip out there and was able to keep them in a cooler to take out when he wanted a snack or a meal. We also brought a lot of fresh fruit and raw veggies, which he was tolerating well, that he was able to eat in the car ride.
In both the 2019, 2020 and most recent (2023) trip I took my Instant pot. It was a life saver. You can do so much on the sautee function from scrambling eggs, warming food and even cooking an entire stir-fry type meal. If you don’t have one I’d highly recommend it! You can get one here.
It was also very important to me to have non toxic cookware since you never really know what may be left for you in an Air BNB or Vrbo. The Instant pot is a wonderful, safe and non-toxic option to rely on for cooking. I also had a set of stainless steel pots and pans and packed my largest pan and a smaller pan to take just in case all that was available was non-stick cookware. For some, this may be a bit of overkill, but I was working diligently for years at making sure any additional toxins were removed so Raleigh could heal with as few hindrances as possible. Non-stick cookware is very toxic. This article is a good jumping off place to learn more if you are unfamiliar with the dangers of nonstick cookware.
I packed a variety of healthy animal fats, spices, fermented foods, and all prepped meals needed to get us to our destination. I had pre-made some soup which was easy to warm up for a quick meal in the Air BNB we stayed at overnight. And on the way home from that trip I used the Instant pot to make ground beef tacos. Easy.
This year’s trip was even easier food-wise with Raleigh in a more “transitioning off” GAPS phase. By that I mean I didn’t feel the need to make meatballs or bring shredded chicken but instead relied on prosciutto for quick meals on the road and a few other snack foods that are all full GAPS compliant ingredient-wise. I will list those below.
So what are the things needed to really pull off a trip while on the GAPS diet?
First, I will say we have only done this on full GAPS. Intro would be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, on stages 1-3 for sure. If you are very meticulous in your planning and prepping you may be able to pull off travel during stages 4-6 but it would still be a very big challenge. If you’ve successfully traveled on any stage of Intro I’d love to hear what you did and how you did it!
Second, I will say I haven’t traveled by plane yet. However, at this point, I think it would be fairly simple but require bringing a lot more snacks and having the ability to shop and cook immediately upon arrival. If you’ve done air travel while on GAPS I’d also be interested in hearing your story!
Traveling by car on full GAPS is very do-able. Here is how to do it:
- Pre-plan. Lots of pre-planning. The list is your friend! Spend time making lists of what you need to bring. Find out, if you can, what is available to you for your use at your destination. Make sure there is a working kitchen. Take additional supplies, like pots and pans, if you feel they could be needed and if you have the room to do so. Invest in an instant pot. Invest in a good cooler.
- Pack a variety of animal fats, spices to cook with, salt and any fermented foods. This year we decided to purchase ferments while we were out to save us some cooler space. So this will depend on where you are in your journey. If you are newly beginning I would recommend bringing your own homemade fermented foods. Raleigh has been on the diet for 6 years and I felt comfortable with some of the higher-quality store bought options for him, and all of us really.
- Meal plan. Meal plan. Meal plan. I felt a bit like all I was doing was meal planning, but to be able to stay on the diet you must spend the time needed doing these things to avoid breaking the diet. I would first brainstorm simple meals we all enjoyed. Then I would plan out the meals we would need on the road, in our overnight stay, and even the day or two after arrival. I made sure I had all the necessary ingredients packed. I wanted to avoid having to rush to the grocery store. If the grocery store needs to be your first stop that is okay!
This year I made a double batch of white chicken chili and separated it into two half gallon mason jars. One jar was for the trip out when we stopped for the night. We stayed at a friend’s house and I was able to warm it on the stove. The second jar was meant for the way home and was to be warmed in a hotel in the Instant pot. We ended up having a power outage that lasted for longer than 48 hours and unfortunately we had to toss the white chicken chili.
So instead we cooked up some flank steak and cut it into smaller pieces to be ready to reheat in the instant pot in the hotel on the way home. With the meat we made flank steak tacos that night for dinner. I made sure I had bowls/plates and reusable forks and knives.
I felt a bit silly dragging in an Instant pot into a hotel but hey, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
For breakfast the next day I had planned on grabbing some fruit from the continental breakfast provided by the hotel. We got some bananas and cuties. Along with the fruit we had Carnivore Crisps. If you are unfamiliar with CC’s you should certainly check them out! They are a bit pricey but fully worth it in these instances! I specifically purchased them for this trip anticipating we would need simple breakfast options on our early morning drive days and I didn’t want to take the time to cook something out of a hotel and my Instant pot.
For this year’s trip we brought a lot more “gently processed” snacks. Now, as a GAPS coach, I have to say that if you are newly on GAPS I cannot recommend anything processed. We didn’t allow processed foods, even if they were technically GAPS legal ingredient-wise, until after the 3 year mark when we had seen large amounts of healing. These snacks did make traveling much easier and less stressful this year for me. I’m very thankful that more and more companies are making clean options with simple, real food ingredients.
SNACKS WE BROUGHT
Skout bars – These are wonderful. They make many nut free options and sweeten most with dates!
That’s It bars – My only issue is they are not fully organic. We don’t do these often but did for this trip.
Chomps – These do contain “encapsulated lactic acid” and that can be bothersome to some, especially a porous/leaky gut. Technically not GAPS-legal due to the lactic acid but Raleigh has done fine with them in his advanced healing state. Epic makes a couple of meat sticks that are technically full GAPS legal. This one and this one. Raleigh enjoys these as well.
Sea Snax Seaweed – Always make sure your seaweed doesn’t contain vegetable oils. Most brands use toxic oils. Look for avocado or olive oil.
Thrive Market coconut wraps – These are awesome. You can also purchase many of these snacks I’ve listed at Thrive. This link will get you $40 off your first order.
Epic beef and liver bites – These are actually my favorite and I tend to hide them.
4505 Pork Rinds and Cracklins (blue color only)
I also always bring baby peppers, baby carrots, sliced cucumber, apples, cuties, bananas, and berries.
GETTING TO YOUR DESTINATION
Depending on our arrival time I will usually pack extra meat for a meal or two so that I don’t have to rush to the grocery store. If you have a big enough cooler and are able to do that I recommend it. So I brought frozen ground beef to make hamburgers and tacos once we arrived. This bit of planning saved me from having to rush to the grocery store on arrival day. I was also sure to pack extra breakfast sausage and bacon for the following morning as well.
SIMPLE ON THE ROAD MEAL IDEAS:
Charcuterie: hard boiled eggs, prosciutto, GAPS-legal cheeses, olives, avocado, fresh fruit and veggies.
Shredded chicken from stock
Homemade GAPS-legal crackers or nut/seed bread
SIMPLE HOTEL MEAL IDEAS WITH AN INSTANT POT:
Ground beef tacos
Warmed up soup or stew of any kind
Warmed up pre-made hamburger patties, flank steak, etc
A clean chicken sausage like this
Pre-made breakfast sausage patties
Yogurt with berries – White Mountain Bulgarian Yogurt is a 24 hour ferment and Full GAPS legal. Nice for travel. Be sure to choose the whole milk option.
If you have the use of a full kitchen, like in an Air BNB or Vrbo, your dinner options are pretty endless. It all comes down to what you want to pack, what you can pack and how much you want to cook once you arrive. I’m a big fan of making a double batch of chili or soup and then all I have to do is reheat it.
WHAT TO COOK ON VACATION
I tried to keep to simple meals that were quick and didn’t require much.
Here was our line up:
Ground Beef Tacos/Taco Salad
Hamburgers – Grill or stove
White Chicken Chili – Recipe coming soon in my fall GAPS Comfort recipe release on September 1st!
Italian Crock Pot Chicken – Used the Instant Pot
Grilled Chicken and Salad
Grilled Flank Steak and Salad
Chicken Sausages and Steamed Broccoli
Pork Chops and Green Beans
Beef Bok Choy Stir Fry- Can be found in my GAPS for You meal plan here
Some of these we did a couple of times!
It is completely possible to travel on full GAPS. I hope these details helped with some ideas or inspiration and can make your next trip easier! If you’ve traveled on any stage of GAPS I’d love to hear what you ate and how you did it! Please comment below.
Happy GAPS travels!